POV: Like Children.

Friday, June 21, 2013

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.  

My niece, nearly five, spent much of yesterday afternoon in nothing but a pair of flowered underwear, a set of spangled butterfly wings, and a silk scarf the color of bubblegum. Rapturous, high on blueberry pie and Cracker Jacks, she danced down the length of her living room, shrieking with arms outstretched. 

There’d been a party that day, with treats and toys and a crowd of other children she’d been anxious to play with - in particular, one little sandy-haired boy who’d spent most of his time roaming the apartment on his own. The underweared shrieking, my brother explained in a whisper, was her subtle way of corralling his attention.

I sat with my friends who were visiting for the afternoon, and watched her.

“I feel like doing that sometimes,” Jamie said.

Monday afternoon, I finished work early. Uneager to begin the two-mile walk home to my Greenpoint sublet, I did what I do best these days: I wandered. I sampled shards of dark chocolate at a local chocolate factory; flipped through art magazines at the bookshop; rummaged in a shed of antiques, looking over rusted popcorn poppers, painted birdcages, and bins of decaying photographs sorted by decade. 

At five, I walked to the park. A breeze was blowing; children in sandals climbed trees. Squirrels peered through tall grass, whiskers twitching, and a man with a boom box played Whitney Houston.

I called Lily. “I felt sad when I woke up today,” I told her. “And I can’t shake it.” 

A lot had happened the week prior, she pointed out; the drawn-out, grown-up equivalent of a party with Cracker Jacks and mystifying strangers. 

“I think I’m crashing,” I told her. “Like when babies have too much stimulation and get fussy.”  

I remembered walking down Kent Avenue on a hot afternoon months ago. On my way, I’d gotten a phone call from someone I’d met recently. He couldn’t see me anymore, he said. My first thought was that I wished I was a child, that I could lay down in the middle of the sidewalk and refuse to move. That someone would come and pick me up and carry me home.

To my left, a little girl dangled from a tree branch, leather-bound sword in hand.

“Where are you right now?” Lily asked. “Maybe what you need is to get out and sit in the park.”

Weeks ago, on a friend’s birthday, I baked a cake. We took it with us to a bar and served it; in lieu of candles, which no one had thought to bring, someone had rolled bits of paper towels into sticks and lit them on fire. After the flames had been extinguished, an onlooker picked a piece of charred towel off the cake, thinking it was food, and ate it.

By the end of the night, we’d collapsed in a heap back at the birthday girl's apartment. The bottoms of my feet, I noticed, were stained black.

“It means I had a good night,” I told everyone, remembering that I’d danced barefoot. 

As a child, I’d often found consolation in being told that cuts and bruises, scrapes and stains were evidence of adventure.

I closed my eyes as I talked; I said I’d wash them in the morning.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThank you so much for your support! Photo via my Instagram.


theshellhammer said...

Beautiful as ever; I am now wishing I were 5 years old again. But I do take pride in the forts I build in our teeny apartment. I sleep in them sometimes, just to feel young.

Have an awesome weekend!


Ren said...

This is amazing. You really have a notion for pacing and rhythm in prose. I loved this. It's excellent. I must start reading these on a regular basis. :)

Paw said...

i love this.

Raquel R. said...

It is always a pleasure to read these.Your words paint such beautiful pictures!

Carol Rial said...

Sadly I never think of my days as a little girl as good times. But i do miss a few things. I guess there is still a lot of that child I coudn't be then inside of me, and I really enjoy it. This story makes me want to come back to those old days.

Have a good weekend, you magical writer :)

tara said...

This was sad! But also beautiful. Like life, I suppose.

Although the person eating the paper towel made me smile :)

julie said...

you are my favorite story teller.

melissa grant said...

i have never read your blog before today, i was aimlessly clicking through links and photos and other blogs and i landed here. i've read through all your POVs and i just wanted to say thank you.

i've had a really bad day. one of those days where you feel sorry for yourself and then you get upset for feeling sorry for yourself. so you go for walk and end up crying in public and feel like more of an idiot.

you made my day better and i thank you again.

max said...

you write beautifully and magically each and every time.

petal and plume said...

absolutely wonderful. such beautiful words.

Layla Guest said...

Hey Shoko, like Max said, beautiful and magical every time...

I've been thinking a lot recently about the moments when I'm "in my child..." feeling the need to react a certain way that draws comfort from emotional connection or sometimes a physical and cathartic release (like shrieking in my panties).

Your post, though, made me think about the other times, when being "in my child" gives me the courage to do or go or be in a way that my adult brain over-analyzes or over-thinks. Even hinders. Perhaps there are times when acknowledging and celebrating the purest forms of ourselves is just what we need.


Pink Ronnie said...

How beautiful.

I must go back and read all your other POV entries...

Ronnie xo

Bekka said...

I love this one Sho! I might be partial to the photo though :)

Pink Ronnie said...

Just wanted to let you know, Shoko, that you've inspired me to begin journalling again for myself. This POV series was exactly what I needed to get started...
Ronnie xo

Nadina said...

awwwww Shoko, you brought fat, salty tears to my eyes.

Kathy said...

Heart swelling. This was beautiful. Dirty feet are definitely evidence of adventure.

Shoko said...

Alex, that's so beautiful! Love that you do that - I'm inspired :)

Ren and Raquel, thank you so much!

Carol, I'm sorry to hear that. Your past, whatever it might have been, has certainly shaped you into an amazing person today.

Layla, beautifully said. Thank you.

Max and Petal, thank you!

Melissa, that means the world to me. I'm so, so glad to hear you're feeling better - having anything to do with that is an honor.

Bekka, you're the best model!

Ronnie, that is such a compliment coming from you. So happy to hear that!

Nadina, aww. I hope they were happy tears :)

Kathy, I agree!


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